20 Mar 2020
The University wants to keep you fully informed about the arrangements we are continuing to make to ensure that you are able to progress with your studies or complete your course at this time when we, along with the wider education sector and country, face challenges, which are unprecedented.
Our first priority is always to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our student and staff community and your families, colleagues and friends. In making our decisions we are at all times following closely the advice and guidance of Public Health England and the Government. We will continue to communicate with you if there are any additional matters to make you aware of. Although we have moved away from face-to-face delivery of the vast majority of our education, we continue to operate as fully as possible. All our staff are continuing to work and to ensure that our academic and student services remain available to you through a variety of alternative means. Details of these are available through your course and student support teams, via the Student Support News page, through our communications and in the frequently asked questions.
We are in a situation where things are changing rapidly and it is difficult for any of us to predict how long the current issues will continue. However, we feel it is important that we give you as much certainty with regard to your studies as is possible. We have therefore taken the decision that all assessments due to take place face to face in the semester two and May examinations weeks, such as face-to-face exams and other practical assessments, will not take place face-to-face. The University’s Academic Board has agreed to invoke its Extraordinary Circumstances Regulations for Assessment to enable us to assess your progress by alternative means. The specific nature of the assessments will vary from course to course. For example, some may be coursework based, some may be assessments taken online, some may be video or audio recording, photographs of design work etc. All course teams are working with external examiners and, where appropriate, professional regulatory bodies, to ensure that the assessments meet their requirements. If there are professional body restrictions, which we are unable to overcome we will ensure that you know this and we will consider and communicate with you how we will support your progress as soon as we are able to do so.
You will shortly receive from your course team, details of the course-specific arrangements they are making for any of your assessments still to be completed in semester two. The learning and teaching you continue to receive, running up to our assessment periods, will include support to ensure that, with the work and studies you are doing, you are fully prepared to be successful in the assessments. It would be helpful if you could wait for your course teams to circulate this to you as each course has a number of external examiners to work with. We will get the communication to you as soon as it is agreed. This may take slightly longer for students on some courses than others.
Where online learning and assessment is a new part of your course as a result of the changes we have to make to protect the health and wellbeing of our university community, and you have no access to internet or hardware to enable you to engage with your studies online, please ensure you have told your course leader by email or in writing that you are in this situation. Please send this information to them as soon as possible in the next few days. We are working very hard to explore the alternative arrangements we can put in place to support your continued studies and assessment if you fall into this category.
I know many of you have also expressed concerns about whether you will be able to submit extenuating circumstances if the circumstances caused by the Coronavirus COVID-19 impact your studies and assessments. In accordance with the Extraordinary Circumstances’ arrangements in our Academic Regulations, which govern the assessment processes, we must maintain the academic standards of courses and the credibility of our awards during periods of significant disruption. Given we are now operating within Extraordinary Circumstances, Extenuating Circumstances’ applications relating directly to COVID- 19 will be automatically approved, as will applications relating to child and caring responsibilities resulting from schools’ closures, and the requirement for evidence will be waived. However, for any other non COVID-19 circumstances, there is still a requirement to complete the online extenuating circumstances form, including the personal statement and relevant evidence in line with the policy.
I hope that this information is useful to you. We will continue to be in touch with you on a regular basis to keep you updated. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your course teams or student support services. I am sure you will appreciate they are receiving a very high volume of calls at the moment but be assured that our full staff body is continuing to work to support your studies and will respond to you as soon as they can. If this takes a little more time than usual we thank you for your understanding.